Category Archives: passengers

Easter weekend in Sydney

Last weekend I visited Sydney. It was my second visit since I moved to Melbourne two and a half years ago. I had lived in Sydney for ten years and made many good friends there, especially in the sketching world. 

I planned my visit to spend some quality time with friends, and I did, I had some lovely conversations and sketching time. It was definitely a sketching holiday and so relaxing. I filled twenty five pages of my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook (13 x 19) over the four day break.

I’ve included a few on this blog. If you would like to see them all they are on my flickr site from 13 to 17 April 2017.

I started sketching as soon as I left work on Thursday and was officially ‘on holidays’ – on the bus to the airport, at the airport. I sketched the view from where I stayed each night, food I ate and scenes along the way.  Some sketches are in ink and some in watercolour pencil and some a combination of both . Sometimes I can visualise what I would like a sketch to look like on the page, and I “know” (inside) that it will work in pen rather than watercolour pencil. On another day or another time I may have chosen different material. 

I am usually very happy with what i put on the page. Every now and then I am exceptionally pleased. I felt that this sketch of the cruise ship in Sydney Harbour really came together when I added the figures, The Sydney Opera House is in the background and it is a temptation to make it the focus.  However it did not fit on the page, so my decision was made.

I like to combine a feature of a building and the larger building to give it some context. This is beautiful The Russell Hotel  where I stayed on Thursday night.  I could spend some time on the interior, as I was leisurely eating my breakfast, and not meeting Chris and Liz til 10 am.  I tried not to get caught up in the detail of the staircase, The exterior sketch was done quickly, as once again I did not want to get caught up in the detail. I have been trying to figure out which room I was in and where I sketched from the Sitting Room Balcony, but it is a confusing building inside, with little staircases and rooms everywhere. 

Catching the ferry to Manly from Circular Quay. I sat on the top deck at the back. I watched as the city disappeared into the distance. This couple sat for a short amount of time on the bench in front of me. I got the lines of their heads and his arm down very quickly on the page, and was really pleased with the flow of the lines and getting their position down on the page. I can look at this and feel where his weight is and how she turns her head,. I ,quickly added some colour with my watercolour pencils, which was just as well, as they moved. I decided not to add the colour of the sky and water. 

Classic Manly on Easter Sunday. The Manly ferry , the coastal pine trees and Easter Eggs.

I sketched with about 12 few of Erin’s sketchers at Manly. I had met two when I was in Sydney, and had a lovely time chatting and sketching with them all. 

and home again. 

At the airport I decided   – no more sketching – (I did have a book to read) UNLESS I sat behind someone with fantastic hair, There was no one on the plane – but on the bus, there was a young girl with wonderfully braided hair AND bunny ears. How could I resist???? I’ve never drawn braids before and it was a  challenge ! It keep me very busy on the way into Melbourne city. Once I figured out the pattern, I could continue it while I waited for another bus.

I hope you have enjoyed my holiday. 

Please let me know if you have any questions about my sketching, using watercolour pencils, or my sketchbook journalling. I love to share my passion/obsession with sketching and the joys of watercolour pencils. 


my UK holiday sketching journey begins

I am not sure where to begin sharing my sketches and stories from my recent three week holiday to England from Australia, which included the Manchester Urban Sketching Symposium, a week in Manchester, York and London. I have so many wonderful memories associated with each sketch.

I have started scanning the first of three sketchbooks.

My sketching for holidays always begins months in advance. I like the excitement of the countdown to a holiday, the research it involves  and the little things that need to be purchased that let you now you are going on a holiday . I have already written about these:

and that is before the plane leaves the ground !

When I leave, I already have in mind some the opportunities I may have and the scenes I may draw although I do not know what some specifically look like. These are fairly controlled situations and usually involve a lot of waiting time.

  • on the bus to the airport
  • at the airport
  • on the plane
  • my hotel – the exterior and the room, breakfast if it is included

These are the sketches I that I am including today. They are only a selection.  I am adding them all to flickr albums .

Each sketch is a specific memory of time and place, although some are contain generic shapes and objects (airplanes ). The more I draw these the better I get and the more comfortable I am with the process and limitations of time/space/equipment.

23Jul2016 to the airport

On the Skybus on the way to Melbourne airport.

It is a 20 minute bus journey to Melbourne airport . From previous experience, I know that I will have a view of the luggage racks or the back of someone’s head in front of me.

23Jul2016 at the airport

Melbourne airport . our plane !

At the airport there are always lots of planes to draw. It is great if I can draw the plan I am flying in (as in this case), but any plane will do. They involve lots of strange shapes (at the nose of the plane) and inconceivable foreshortening for the rest of it (lots of measuring and comparing size and angles). I usually end up with the wing going off the page . I wrote the notes on the page later to try and remember the process of customs and immigration and what we had to do when.

23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi23Jul2016 on the plane Melb to Abu Dhabi 2






22 hours of flight provides lots of drawing time – the people, their shoes, the food and more. How often are you given time like this ! I can easily spend the time trying different techniques. However I am also distracted by the movies,  reading, and discussing our upcoming travel adventure.

28Jul2016 The Midland Hotel

Midland Hotel . Manchester

We were staying in Manchester for a week. I thought that would be plenty of time to sketch the exterior of the stunning Midland Hotel, as well as the interior of the rooms. As usual there was not. Life was so busy and I was still completing the drawings  on the day we were leaving. This drawing was completed in four sessions of between 15 and 30 minutes. I would  leave the hotel at 8ish , walk across the road and sit on the same bench at the back of Central Library and add a few more lines and colour. My new best friends are Venetian red and Dark Sepia Faber Castell watercolour pencils. But more about that later…..

I hope you enjoy joining me on my sketching journey . Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to talk about. I could talk on and on about travel sketching .




travel sketching on the go

I have just spent three days in Sydney after my first year of living in Melbourne. I was going to write a blog including my sketches from the weekend. However, after beginning scanning my 18 pages I realised there were enough interesting transport and travel sketches to put together a post on them alone.

Travelling provides so many opportunities for very quick sketches as well as longer ones.  A lot of time is spent waiting, sitting, standing and  queuing. Some of it is unexpected and some you will know about in advance.  Each opportunity can also provide its own challenges and issues.

6Aug15 bus

My bus ride to the airport (above) was very bumpy. I think I was sitting over a wheel! I sketched with my Lamy Safari Joy ink pen and my hand seemed to bump along with the bus. It seemed to happen when I got to drawing faces – some big noses here. I have drawn on this airport bus previously and am used to where people are positioned and the perspective.

8Aug15 taxi
The taxi ride back to the airport was a lot smoother. I don’t catch many taxis and don’t often draw in them. The subject doesn’t move much!
8Aug15 plane
I always arrive early at the airport and enjoy the time that I can spend sketching planes. I don’t always get to draw the plane I am travelling in. Sometimes I start to draw a plane and all of the landing crew, mechanics and vehicles suddenly move away and the plane leaves. Sketched with my watercolour pencils in Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook (13 x 19 cm ) .

6Aug15 plane

6Aug15 passengersFellow passengers across the aisle can be ideal subjects to draw . (Sometimes the seats are just to close together and I don’t feel comfortable sketching with my passenger right next to me looking over my shoulder ).They sleep, have interesting hairstyles, lots of creases in their clothing to sketch. The sketch above was in ideal circumstances. This was before take-off and all the people stayed in place for me. I sketched this with my Watercolour pencils, but with no water added.  (and I received lovely compliments from the flight crew).

But passengers also move a lot in their seat and unexpectedly  change positions. The lady below moved a few times, but stayed in each one for a while. She also sat with her legs crossed on the seat (how did she do that?) but I missed that opportunity to sketch her.

8Aug15 passenger
and then there are the REALLY quick sketches as people hurry to leave 6Aug15 passengers2

The SEATBELT sign has been turned off at the end of the flight and everyone scrambles to standup, retrieve their belongings and then ….wait and wait. (and sketch)
8Aug15 on the plane

Melbourne holiday sketching

I have just returned from five days in Melbourne. It was 44 degrees for four days in a row – the four days I was there ! Very hot

A lot of the time during the day I met with some of the Melbourne Urban Sketchers, which I have written about in a separate blogpost.

The rest of the time I sketched alone or when I was with my friends Louise & eon, who I was staying with. My sketchbook pages for my time in Melbourne are journal of my days. They are reminders of what I ate, where I went and events that occurred and the people I was with.

I carry the one sketchbook a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook 13 x 21, my watercolour pencils in a wrap and Lamy Safari Joy ink pen – note to self – Always bring extra ink. I ran out with two days go. Not a tragedy and I could have bought more. Instead it just meant that I used other pencils and left the writing until I got home.
I starting with my traditional airport sketch – with extra excitement this time when the departure lounge was cleared.



Some iconic Melbourne – Flinders Street & tram

other sketches  – a motorbike parked outside State Library

A building in Flinders Lane. It is on the last page of my sketchbook, so has some scribbles. I show people how watercolour pencils work on this last page – scribble scribble scribble, splash splash

I did sketches at my friends – lettuce in pot that was sitting in the sink . I later printed it at home on a card and sent it as a thank you card for having me as their guest. We did eat some of the lettuce.

We also ate out.Brunch at Mossgreen tearooms in Armadale on Saturday.  I have a page of notes next to write next to this sketch about our wonderful experience there. I sketched my breakfast while we were there. Scrambled eggs with salmon and dill.

The waitress watched and chatted to us as it was nice and quiet and early. She also loved to sketch and we left her inspired and with the contact details for Melbourne Urban Sketchers.

I took a photo of the tearooms from across the street and sketched it at home. I like to sketch on location, but I did not have the time and it was too hot.


My friend Louise was cooking dinner from a simple recipe form the internet (she searched for something with spinach as she had a lots in the crisper) it was untried, but simple, so she tried it, I have no enthusiasm for cooking, but was happy to chat in the kitchen while she sliced, chopped and baked.

I was inspired by their home grown garlic (small but very strong smelling) and had an idea to draw the ingredients, spreading over two pages.  It then moved to drawing all the ingredients and the finished results, which would hopefully be mouthwatering .

As I have used my watercolour pencils for the past five year I am very aware of the colours and how to apply them and what will happen when I add water (some colours change a lot !) I also know how textures can be achieved, although I am still learning all the time. That is why I am passionate about using them …


I then the decided to leave space to add the list of the ingredients and recipe.
The pressure was on to draw the ingredients before they were added to the pan. Some were drawn after the pie was in the oven (an onion is an onion). I grabbed some spinach before it was added and other being chopped. I could make a whole blog of this.

I realised that I would have to add tasting notes, as we were all a little disappointed at the bland taste .

The next morning I was up before the others, in the kitchen, had take the left overs (just as well there was some) out of the fridge and drew them before the others were up for breakfast ! This was the day I was leaving……

My plane to go home

Erin’s Sketch class and a days travel journaling

My first blog post, on 27 March this year was prompted by going to Erin Hill sketching classes to show her students how I use my watercolour pencils. I talked about it to the class and then I realised I really needed to put it in writing, as so much of it happens in my head. So that became my first blog.  Read about the steps I go through here

Yesterday, I had the honor of being invited back by Erin to show her current Sketch class how I use my pencils. I decided to also use it as travel journal day, as I knew it would be a full day out and I may have the opportunity to capture moments on my day. This is all in planning for my very upcoming holiday to the UK.

I filled 8 pages of my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. You will notice that there are a few different styles. Each is suited to where I am and the time I have, and how I feel.

I started my day on the bus into Sydney city and was not planning to draw, but the man in front had a hair “style” worth drawing. I knew I had 20 to 30 minutes to draw him, until the bus reached the city. When I got home at the end of the day I realised I had not  left a page for a map for my travel journal day , so I squished it in on the page around him.

On the ferry from Sydney city to Manly I had 30 minutes to draw something. No one else was outside where I was sitting, so I drew the scenery and me.  There is never nothing to draw! When I got to Erin’s class, one of the other students had also drawn her crossed legs on her journey in


At Erin’s class this week the theme was glass bottles and jars and she had them set up on the tables. I choose these old pottery bottles. I drew them once and then a second time to show the class of 10 how I use watercolour pencils. As you can see from the second drawing, there is not a lot of marks on the paper, bit there was a lot of discussion and questions. I hope that I opened the students eyes as to the different ways watercolour pencils can be used to make marks on paper and how I use them. It was inspirational to talk with them.

Erin has Thursday Friday and Saturday classes and the students glass bottles and jars drawings from those days  are here. A wonderful variety of styles, line work and colours !

We then walked a short way to a local Art gallery “Raglan Gallery” to sketch. They had some lovely glass and ceramic bowls and jars, but I chose a small alabaster classical statue.





 After about  30 minutes we went next door for lunch and more sketching . Although we were eating in, I noticed that their takeaway cups were blank – a ready made canvas.   I have only recently “discovered” this,  and have drawn on coffee cups at Cockatoo Island and  RPA . People have been doing this for ages and there a entire blog using them as the canvas for New York City.
At lunch I sketched y lunch, some of our group. Some of them also sketched on a cup  
After a few lovely hours with fellow sketchers, I made my way back to the ferry terminal, to discover the next ferry was not leaving for another 30 minutes. Time for another sketch! I drew the view across the water to the beautiful buildings . Then I saw the ferry pulling in, so quickly went through the ticket gate to join the queue. I was at the back of the queue, which didn’t move, as we had to wait for all the passengers to come off –  so I sketched the people !

 And then finally – a VERY big swell saw the ferry moving up and down in the waves as we left Manly Harbour. I could see how much we were moving as the horizon moved from the top of my line of vision to the bottom. A man stood on the side deck enjoying it all.
I think sketching the scene may have stopped me from getting seasick
A very big, long day, but I was immensely pleased with what I captured in my sketchbook and the opportunity to sketch with other motivated people

St Andrews College, RPA